mSpot launches browser-based ringtone creator (and we've got 1,000 ringtones to give away)

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Let’s say that, for some kooky reason, you’re dying to get the hook from that new Fergie track as your ringtone. No problem – there are half a dozen ways to get it done. But what about if you don’t want the hook, but some obscure bit 77 seconds in? Oh, and you don’t want to download any software, nor enter any sort of legal gray area? Your options have slimmed down a bit. Enter mSpot’s Make-UR-Tones, an ultra simple click-and-drag ringtone creation service. After starting as a mobile application available for various handsets last year, the service has now been ported to the browser.

The idea, and the ringtone editor itself, are quite simple: Pick a song from mSpot’s catalogue of over 400,000. Drag the start and end points to whatever bit you’re looking to highlight, up to 30 seconds in length. Decide if you want it to fade in and out, preview it, and then buy away at $2.99 a pop. mSpot will then cut the track accordingly, encode it to the proper format for your handset, and set it on its way for easy downloading. We made our first ringtone in all of about a minute.

The service is currently limited to Sprint and AT&T users, but will be expanding to other major carriers “soon”. Not all handsets on these carriers are compatible, however – for example, the AT&T list is missing the iPhone, which strikes us as a bit funny. It makes sense, of course; the iPhone handles ringtones in a strange way, which makes it somewhat difficult for third party services to get ringtones onto the device without befuddling the less-tech-savvy members of their audience. So why do we chuckle? Because the mSpot ringtone editor is a dead ringer for the iTunes ringtone editor, which is purposed pretty much solely for the iPhone.

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Of course, there are only so many ways you can design a dead simple audio editing interface, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, yadda yadda. We’ll go ahead and leave it at that.

The per-ringtone price of $2.99 seems a bit steep, considering that the average price of a full song online (through the legal outlets) is under a buck. It seems even steeper when you consider the alternatives. For example: Myxer, which currently holds the ever important #1 Google search listing for “ringtones”, offers much of the same functionality and doesn’t cost the user a penny. However, Myxer relies on users to bring their own audio file, placing it somewhere in that aforementioned legal gray area as it involves the editing and redistribution of songs they don’t necessarily have licenses for. mSpot’s strengths are in its collection of licensed songs and unquestionable legality – but just how important are those to their audience, a mighty chunk of which likely has a nearly endless MP3 collection?

Is mSpot bringing enough to the table for the $3 pricetag? We’ll let you decide. mSpot has set MobileCrunch readers up with 1,000 ringtones, free of charge. Registration is required, but it’s a pleasantly short process. To get your free tone, head over to http://www.mspot.com/song/, pick your song, edit it to your liking, and punch in the promocode techcrunch during checkout. Let us know what you think in the comments.

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